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La straniera

La straniera

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This release marks the first full-length Bellini opera in Opera Rara’s catalogue. Three of Bellini’s operas – La sonnambula and Norma (both 1831) and his last work, I puritani (1835)... read more

Song title Time Format Price
playstop01 La straniera: Act I: Introduction: Sinfonia - scena I: Voga, voga, il vento tace 05:22
playstop02 La straniera: Act I scena II: Recitative: Trista, pensosa, mentre a te d'intorno 02:36
playstop03 La straniera: Act I scena II: Duet: Io la vidi - scena III: La straniera! - scena IV: Qual rumor? 09:16
playstop04 La straniera: Act I scena V: Recitative: Osburgo? ? Io non divido 01:29
playstop05 La straniera: Act I scena VI: scena and Romanza: E sgombro il loco ? 08:09
playstop06 La straniera: Act I scena VII: scena and Duet: Alaide! 15:38
playstop07 La straniera: Act I scena VIII: Campo ai veltri 04:03
playstop08 La straniera: Act I scena IX: Ti trovo alfin - scena X: Eccola! 13:59
playstop09 La straniera: Act I scena XI: Che mai penso? 05:55
playstop10 La straniera: Act I scena XII: Trio: Ah! non partir: gia stende 03:14
playstop11 La straniera: Act I scena XIII: Trio: Leopoldo! - scena XIV: Qual rumor! - scena XV: La straniera! 10:04
playstop12 La straniera: Act II scene 1-4: scena and Aria: Udimmo. Il tuo racconto 15:04
playstop13 La straniera: Act II scena V: scena: Tu che osasti mentir in faccia a questo - scena VI: Voi che presenti foste 01:34
playstop14 La straniera: Act II scena VII: scena: A tempo io giungo ? 11:34
playstop15 La straniera: Act II scena VIII: scena: Ne alcum ritorna? ? Oh cruda - scena IX: Esulta: eil riede! 10:32
playstop16 La straniera: Act II scena X: E dolce la vergine - scena XI: Dolce di un padre al cor suona 03:07
playstop17 La straniera: Act II scena XI: scena and Quartet: Valdeburgo! - scena XII: Gia dell'altare - scena XIII: Che far vuoi tu 07:58
playstop18 La straniera: Act II scena XIV: scena: Sono all'ara ? - scena XV: Vaneggia ? - Finale: Che veggio? 11:37

This release marks the first full-length Bellini opera in Opera Rara’s catalogue. Three of Bellini’s operas – La sonnambula and Norma (both 1831) and his last work, I puritani (1835) – remain classics of the bel canto repertoire, yet the slightly earlier La straniera (The Stranger) remains curiously neglected. In fact, this highly romantic melodrama, first staged at La Scala in 1829, was initially enormously successful, both in Italy and internationally, but gradually fell from the operatic repertoire as the bel canto style itself became unfashionable.Set in Brittany around 1200, the plot centres around the identity of the mysterious woman who roams, veiled, through the landscape of Brittany. Ignorant peasants suppose her to be a witch; little suspecting that she is, in fact, Alaide, the exiled wife of the King of France. She attracts the attention of the local Count, Arturo, who is supposed to be engaged to Isoletta, and who finds himself jealous of her visitor, Valdeburgo (Alaide’s disguised brother). The result is confusion, violence and a tragic ending. It was with La straniera that Bellini, aged 27, declared his independence from the florid style of Rossini by limiting the score’s coloratura writing in favour of straightforward, graceful melodies which express the characters’ often fiery emotions with minimal adornment or display; perfect for the beautifully constructed verses of Felice Romani, Bellini’s favourite librettist. The score points forward to Bellini’s greatest works and, on its own account, includes superb dramatic writing and those characteristic ‘long, long melodies of which he alone had the secret’, as Verdi put it.

Booklet includes complete libretto with English translation.

'Musically rich and dramatically imposing' - Dominic McHugh,

Patrizia Ciofi (Alaide), Mark Stone (Baron Valdeburgo), Darío Schmunck (Arturo), Enkelejda Shkosa (Isoletta), Graeme Broadbent (Prior of the Knights of Hospitallers), Roland Wood (Lord of Montolino), Aled Hall (Osburgo), London Philharmonic Orchestra, David Parry – conductor


Background to the story.

Agnese, daughter of the courtier of the Duke of Pomerania, captivated the heart of the French king, Philippe-Auguste with gifts of a ring, a lock of her hair and her portrait.  As a result, they married, but unfortunately the king already had a wife: Isamberga, princess of Denmark.  He had abandoned Isamberga on their wedding night, subject to ‘an inexplicable aversion’ (to quote Romani).  Nevertheless, the marriage stood, and Philippe was threatened with excommunication unless he reinstated Isamberga in place of Agnese.  As a result, Agnese was sent into exile from Paris to the castle of Kaency in Brittany, and her brother Leopold was also sent there secretly to watch over her; he changed his name to Baron Valdeburgo.

Agnese was so frustrated by her seclusion at the castle, unable to see anyone, that she left a friend in the castle impersonating her, and took off for the remote countryside near the lake of Montolino, so that she could be left entirely alone to bewail her fate.  Unfortunately, the local inhabitants of Montolino saw these solitary lamentations, and assumed that she was a witch.  Their stories of the strange veiled woman wandering the countryside pique the interest of Count Arturo of Ravenstel, who is engaged to Isoletta, daughter of the Lord of Montolino, but has fallen hopelessly in love with Agnese, known to him as Alaide, and to everyone else as ‘La Straniera’.

The opera is set in Brittany, around 1300.

Act 1

Scene 1

A chorus of villagers approach the castle of Montolino in boats over the lake, singing of the upcoming marriage of Isoletta and Arturo.  Isoletta, however, confides to Arturo’s friend Valdeburgo that Arturo is capivated by another woman, the mysterious Straniera [Stranger].  Just the previous day, Isoletta has heard La Straniera on the lake announcing that Arturo should give up his love for her, and Arturo has not been seen since.  At that moment La Straniera appears in a black veil, crossing the lake in a small boat, pursued by suspicious villagers.  The commotion brings out Montolino and Arturo’s tutor Osburgo, while Isoletta gives further voice to her fears.  Osburgo promises Montolino that he will watch out for Arturo.

Scene 2           

The interior of La Straniera’s cabin.  Arturo enters, and contemplates a portrait of the mysterious woman, known by him as Alaide, to whom he addresses his love.  He then hears the sounds of Alaide’s lute in the distance, followed by her voice singing a melancholy romance.  When she arrives, Arturo seeks to persuade her of his feelings, and although she is moved she seeks to turn him away, speaking of her unhappy destiny. 

The sounds of a hunt are heard, celebrating the day of Arturo’s marriage to Isoletta; Alaide sends him away with a heavy heart.  The hunters reach the cabin, where they vow to take revenge for her apparent enchantment of Arturo.  Meanwhile, Valdeburgo seeks to persuade Arturo to return to Isoletta.  Arturo announces that he no longer loves her, and implores Valdeburgo to visit Alaide with him.  At that moment, she appears, and Valdeburgo runs to embrace her.  Arturo’s suspicions are immediately roused, but Valdeburgo explains that they have known each other since childhood.  When Valdeburgo counsels Arturo to leave her for good, however, Arturo quickly becomes angry; only with much persuasion can Valdeburgo convince him not to fight.  They go their separate ways.

Scene 3

As a storm threatens, Arturo stands alone and troubled.  His thoughts are interrupted by  Osburgo and the chorus of hunters, who convince him that Valdeburgo is indeed a rival.  Arturo is roused to jealous fury once more, and when Alaide and Valdeburgo emerge from her cabin he lies in wait.  The two speak of their plans to run away together the following day, and as Valdeburgo leaves Arturo confronts him.  They fight; Valdeburgo is wounded, and falls into the lake.  Arturo tells Alaide he has killed Valdeburgo, leading her to reveal that he is her brother.  Arturo is horrified, and throws himself into the lake in search of Valdeburgo as a group of villagers approach, to find Alaide kneeling with Valdeburgo’s blood on her clothes.  They accuse her of killing him, and she agrees that she is guilty.  The storm finally breaks, while Alaide sings of her despair.  She is dragged away by Osburgo and his henchmen as the curtain falls.

Act 2

Scene 1

The trial of Alaide, in the Great Hall of the Tribunal of the Hospitallers.  Osburgo seeks to persuade the judges and Prior that Alaide is guilty.  She declares her innocence, but refuses to explain why she claimed that her love was fatal to Valdeburgo.  Arturo bursts in, and confesses to the murder of Valdeburgo.  Alaide, however, refuses to confirm this, and so is named his accomplice.  To the horror and amazement of all present, Valdeburgo then enters, wrapped in a white cloak. Valdeburgo reveals that he managed to save himself from drowning in the lake and moves to take Alaide away, while rejecting Arturo’s attempts at reconciliation.  The judges refuse to let her go, but when she lifts her veil to reveal her royal identity to the Prior he allows her to leave, to general bemusement and Arturo’s desolation.

Scene 2

The scene changes once more to the forest around La Straniera’s cabin.  Arturo appears, and convinces Valdeburgo to forgive him.  Valdeburgo, however, refuses to let him see Alaide.  Eventually, Arturo agrees to leave and to go back to Isoletta, but only on the condition that Alaide will come to his wedding to give him sufficient strength to go through with the service.

Scene 3

In her private apartment in Montolino castle, Isoletta grieves for Arturo’s lost love, before news arrives that Arturo is returning to her and will marry her.

Scene 4

Outside the cathedral, a procession of knights and ladies sing in praise of Arturo’s marriage to Isoletta.  Arturo is trembling and unable to concentrate, and asks to wait outside with Isoletta until the service is due to begin.  At that moment he catches sight of Alaide, and Isoletta renounces all claim to him.  But Alaide comes forward to persuade Isoletta to go ahead with the marriage, and drags them both into the church before reappearing in the courtyard in a highly agitated state.  As the marriage anthem sounds inside the church, she prays for strength, but then collapses at the moment of the vows.  Arturo emerges from the church, declaring his undying love for Alaide.  Meanwhile, the Prior arrives, with the news that the first wife of the French king has just died, making Alaide the new Queen of France.  At this revelation, Arturo falls on his sword, leaving La Straniera to bewail her ill-fated love once more.

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